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Is it anti-Semitic to boycott Israel?

The Duel

© BLEND IMAGES/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement calls for an economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians. The UK, United States and other governments have criticised BDS as anti-Semitic and tried to prevent organisations, such as local authorities and student unions, from supporting it.

YES This is the most protean of racisms and it has shape-shifted again. Oldfashioned Jew hatred still exists, but anti-Semitism today is often found—as the Labour Party is discovering—in the smelly borderlands where an antiIsraeli sentiment of a particularly excessive, demented kind, commingles with and updates—often unthinkingly—older anti-Semitic tropes, images and assumptions.

I call this “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism” and I think it has a programme. It intends the destruction of one nation state in the world—the little Jewish one. And the core of the BDS movement does seek to eliminate Israel. Norman Finkelstein, a highprofile critic of Israel, has railed against the “duplicity and disingenuousness” of the BDS movement, which claims to be agnostic on Israel. Finkelstein argues, “At least be honest with what you want: ‘We want to abolish Israel, and this is our strategy for doing it.’” Whether you marched with the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s or not, if you want to destroy the world’s only Jewish homeland, you’ve wandered into those borderlands.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s July issue: In her final issue as Editor Bronwen Maddox explores the legacy of former Prime Minister Tony Blair having spoken with him at a Prospect event on 24th May. She examines his domestic policy, the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and what the future holds for the Labour Party. The Chancellor George Osborne lays down his view on why the public should to “Remain” in the EU, and Ian Hargreaves takes a close look at what is happening at the BBC. Also in this issue: Former Conservative leader David Davis suggests he can see a very narrow set of circumstances that might push him towards running for the party leadership again, William Skidelsky writes about why tennis is the best sport and Vanora Bennett looks at Svetlana Alexievich’s extraordinary work recording Russia’s lost voices.
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